Sri Lanka police wake up to prison massacre after five years

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s police on Thursday announced opening an investigation into the massacre of 27 inmates at the maximum security Welikada jail nearly five years ago.

Inspector-General of Police Pujith Jayasundara ordered the Criminal Investigations Department to begin investigating the November 2012 slaughter, police said in a statement.

It did not give further details, but the massacre sparked international condemnation of the government of then president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The then opposition spokesman and current finance minister Mangala Samaraweera accused government forces of killing the 27 inmates in cold blood after calling them by name.

Among those killed execution style were three men who were being held in connection with the murder of a Buddhist monk at Kotte. The trio had stabbed the monk when their attempt to rob an ancient sword at the temple went horribly wrong.

The sword robbery was also linked to the Colombo national museum robbery, said to have been carried out on behalf of a very powerful secretary at the time, to give him superhuman powers to remain in power after he came into possession of the ancient swords belonging to Sinhala kings.

The then senior deputy inspector general Anura Senanayake had been accused of covering up the museum robbery to make it look like the work of a drug addict.

Trouble erupted inside the Welikada prison in November 2012 when the police Special Task Force launched a search for drugs and cell phones. The authorities accused inmates of trying to grab weapons of security personnel, and armed troops were called and opened fire inside the jail.

No one had been held responsible for the massacre during the previous administration.

A report into the massacre remains unpublished, but leaked excerpts suggest a systematic massacre aimed at destroying witnesses who could have testified against powerful individuals of the former regime.





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